The False Virtue of Abortion Rights

I realize this is a sensitive topic and that part of why it's so hard to talk about is because it's so common and often a secret source of pain. I love many women who have had abortions, men who have been affected by abortion. My aim in this is never to increase hurt. I also love many who I know disagree with me on this topic. My aim is not to spark unhelpful debates, but to encourage an honest look at the values that drive abortion rights. 

“Today we are taking a giant step forward in the hard-fought battle to ensure a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own personal health, including the ability to access an abortion. With the signing of this bill, we are sending a clear message that whatever happens in Washington, women in New York will always have the fundamental right to control their own body,”

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York.

Abortion has been a frequent topic in the news over the last year or so, with states such as New York taking drastic measures to protect abortion rights up to the moment of birth, at least if continuing the pregnancy threatens the vaguely-defined “health” of the mother. States such as Louisiana and Ohio have passed bills banning abortion once a heartbeat is detected, though putting the resulting laws in to effect will likely be a lengthy battle.

Laws such as the one passed earlier this year in New York are disturbing though not shocking. Perhaps most disturbing is the celebration that accompanied, the celebration of abortion as something good and virtuous, something kind and just and necessary to equality for women.

There is nothing just about abortion.

There is nothing just about killing innocent humans. No matter how small and unseen they are. 

I believe in equality for women. I believe men, women, and children of all ages are first and foremost humans, equal in inherent value and equally bearing the image of God. 

The rights of women matter because the rights of humans matter. The rights of the unborn matter because the rights of humans matter. 

I have rights as a human, a woman, and an American, rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Life is the most very basic of human rights. Without it the rest are meaningless. 

I believe in the equality of women. But I don’t believe in the superiority of women. 


Being a woman does not entitle me to decide who lives and dies. My pursuit of happiness never justifies taking the life of an innocent human, no matter age, stage of development, location, or status of dependency. 

My financial stability is not more valuable than another human’s life. My opportunity to pursue further education is not more valuable than another human’s life. My mental and emotional health, my convenience, my freedom to do my own thing, my status in my current community – not one of those things are more valuable than the life of another innocent human being. 

My rights as a woman do not negate another’s rights as a human.

There is nothing kind about abortion. 

Abortion is certainly not kindness toward human babies, the most obvious victims of abortion. 

If we killed unwanted dogs and cats the way we kill unwanted babies, it wouldn’t be celebrated. It would be called unkindness and cruelty. There would be all sorts of outcry. As there should be. 

Reasonable people don’t think it’s acceptable to violently dismember animals the way abortion providers violently dismember babies. 

Human babies have no voice, no ability to advocate for themselves. Human babies are the weakest and most vulnerable of human beings.

We human beings, men and women, have a responsibility to protect the weak. There’s nothing kind or good or virtuous about using your power to harm those who are weaker than you. 

We women, of all people, should remember that. 

Abortion is not kindness toward women.

It is absolutely true that for many the prospect of raising a child will threaten their stability in many ways.  Education may seem out of reach, poverty may seem inescapable, the possibility of providing a safe and healthy environment for a child may seem unattainable.

Many women seek abortion not as a means of convenience but as a means of survival. And without support from family and community, many mothers, along with their children, will barely survive, let alone thrive.

We who believe in the value of all humans should be willing to take on the inconvenience of caring for those mothers and babies who are vulnerable to abortion. This isn’t just about HER values. It’s about OUR values. This is on us too.

There’s nothing kind about making abortion the go-to solution for women who don’t really want abortions. What’s kind is providing the support that all mothers need but that many have no access to.

Too many women make decisions they hate and that hurt for the rest of their lives because no one was there to speak truth into their fears.

And the truth is that women are strong. The love between mother and child is strong. Love will always call out a woman’s greatest strength.

I’ve seen a video of a woman without arms breastfeed her baby, prepare her food, and wash her laundry. I’ve seen women struggle through mental illness and trauma and abuse and judgment from their families to give their babies life. I’ve sat with a fifteen-year-old mother in a situation far less than ideal while she nursed her newborn and shared her birth story and early parenting struggles. 

“It’s not about me anymore.” she said.

We wildly underestimate the strength and resilience of women when we present abortion as the only or the best option, when we can justify killing another human being because a woman’s circumstances are not ideal for motherhood. To place the focus on abortion as a solution to difficulties allows us to neglect to address the difficulties themselves. 

Women who give their children life when death would have been easier embody what we should all aspire too.

Sacrificial love is virtuous.

Persistence is virtuous.

Hard work is virtuous.

Bravery is virtuous.

These are things worth celebrating, worth praising.

Yet, somehow the idea of “women’s equality”, secured by “reproductive rights”, has become the idea with the highest value, the one most celebrated. The right to control the when and if of having children, the right to put oneself first, the right to not be inconvenienced by motherhood, has become more valuable than protecting the unseen, but already-existing life of a human child.

This space of women’s equality has become sacred ground that we dare not tread on, full of values and assumptions we dare not question.

But we must tread on it.

We must ask the hard questions. These things we’ve been told are necessary to the flourishing of women – are they really so necessary? Are rights more important than lives? Can we have a coherent set of values if the justice and equality we aim to secure for ourselves requires the death of the innocent?

Or is it just self we value? Is it just power we value? Do we appeal to the virtues of justice and equality only if they serve to further our ability to get what we want no matter the cost?

Who do we think we are? To demand that our pursuit of happiness be considered more valuable than the life of another human?

We are women.

We are humans with intrinsic value equal to but not greater than that of other humans. We are women, created  in the image of God to fulfill a good and valuable purpose in the world.

Our femaleness does not make us more valuable than other human beings. Violence done to us does not give us the right to do violence to others. That men can evade parental responsibility more easily than women can, does not make evading parental responsibility a good thing.

Let’s not pretend selfishness is virtuous.

Killing life instead of nurturing it contradicts our very nature; it spits in the face of the very image of God in our womanhood. Ultimately, it severs us from the purpose made clear by our biology, disconnects us from the very thing that makes us unique as women. Not every woman can or will physically bear children. But we lose something precious when we abhor our life-giving and life-nurturing purpose in the world and trade it for a power and equality that primarily serves our own selfishness and costs the lives of the weak and the vulnerable.

Abortion is not virtuous. If we want women’s equality to yield something good and beautiful and virtuous in the world, we cannot continue to sacrifice the blood of the innocent for its sake.

7 Ways to Nurture Joy in Parenting

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I have wanted to be a mother for most of my life. I am crazy about my children. I always call my two boys, “My treasures”, and I mean that with all my being.

But this parenting thing is tough.

It’s not for the faint of heart. When you’re trying to do everything right, to parent well, to be a good spouse, to keep the house respectably clean, to keep the kids healthy, to not let them grow up to be menaces to society…

Sometimes you lose the joy.

Sometimes you’re soooooo tired. Sometimes you think if that kid whines one more time your anger is gonna turn you into this ugly monster you hate. Sometimes you think you’d give your right eye to get to sit through one supper without the baby wanting to nurse, or to get 15 minutes alone with your husband before you’re both so doggone tired, or be able to read more than 2.3 sentences in that book you’ve been trying to finish for the last six months.

And it’s ok to want those good things and make ways for them to happen.

But if you’re like me, those things aren’t happening every day. In fact, you’re lucky if they happen once or twice a week. And the majority of your time is spent taking care of other people’s needs. You’re meeting goals at work. You’re teaching the three-year-old to wipe his butt. You’re fixing your husband’s lunch for the next day while he’s asleep on the couch and the rest of the house is quiet because, gosh that man works hard.

And if you’re a stay-at-home mom or a work-at-home mom (or dad), you’re spending a LOT of time with your children, your wonderful, amazing, frustrating, exhausting, lovable , drive-you-crazy-all-day-long children. If you’re a working parent, you’re probably coming home after a long day with limited reserves left to invest into your kids.

And maybe you need to find the joy in parenting again.

Maybe you just really want to enjoy your kids and consequently your life.

I’ve found this to be true over and over again. I’ve had to seek it out and take initiative and make it a priority. So, with no further ado, here are some things that I have found indispensable in my quest to enjoy parenting my children.

#1 Get down and play with them.

You guys, this is SO HARD for me. I had a recent conversation with one of my cousins. She is the second of nine kids and her parents are SO GOOD at this. She is getting married soon and anticipating starting a family, and we were talking about all things marriage and motherhood. I shared that this is a struggle with me, just slowing down and playing with my kids. She looked at me like I was from Mars. All that to say, maybe not everyone struggles with this. Maybe I’m in the minority here.

But I suspect that I’m not. I suspect that a lot of you awesome parents out there have a hard time setting aside your agenda for the day to enter into your kid’s agenda and that maybe you’re not even sure you know how to play anymore. I mean, you remember it being so fun as a kid, but, sheesh, what did you actually DO?

Learn what they love to do, and do it with them. Karyn Purvis, author of “The Connected Child”, emphasizes the importance of playfulness in bonding and attachment. Though she writes and speaks with children from hard places in mind, I have found her research on parenting and her heart for healthy, well-attached children so valuable and have implemented bits and pieces of her parenting strategies with my own children.

I know it’s hard. And there’s no formula for making it happen or doing it well. If there was, it probably wouldn’t be play, right? But it matters. It’s valuable. Your kids will say and do the funniest things. You’ll get a chance to enter into their world, see their beautiful imaginations, observe what they’re learning, and be delighted in them. Enter into something they enjoy and do it with them. Even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time, just do it.

#2 Give technology a break.

This one’s easier said than done and it’s a popular theme in online parenting advice, but in my home at least, it makes one of the biggest positive impacts.

For some reason, my oldest son LOVES those little nursery rhyme videos on YouTube. And I mean LOVES them. He would watch them for hours if I would let him. Which is great if I’m sick or something, but not so great as an everyday activity. Stopping the videos often elicits tears, anger, and tantrums, none of which make my child very enjoyable. Other activities may require more time, more focus from me, and more cleaning up, but it’s worth it to make parenting more enjoyable.

Parents aren’t off the hook either. I admittedly check my phone too often. Sometimes I use it as a filler between normal activities. Instead of just moving to the next thing I should be doing, I check my notifications. I really, really enjoy Instagram. I read articles, comment on posts, gather advice and suggestions, and watch hilariously dumb videos all on Facebook.

And I sometimes – no, oftentimes- I ignore my son in the process. Keep putting him off. Get exasperated because he won’t just be patient and wait for two minutes. Which he should, right? There’s nothing wrong with expecting and teaching obedience. But there is something wrong with responding in anger, especially over something that’s really not that important. That’s me. Guilty. Way more often than I’d like to admit. And too much technology really feeds that.

#3 Structure life and routines so that you do get some alone time.

It IS important for you to get some time to recharge. Honestly, just because of our own personalities or other stress in our lives, some of us will need this more than others. We are absolutely called to give unselfishly to those around us, but even Jesus sometimes retreated away from the crowds he was serving in order to rest and speak with His Father, and then He continued on His mission.

We won’t be able to enjoy our kids if we’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed out all the time. We will burn out as parents if we never nurture ourselves as well. I think everyone knows this, but it is always a hard balance. So do your best to structure life in such a way that you do get some time to do something you enjoy without your kids, to focus on your spouse, to refuel your heart and mind and body to be able to keep being a good parent.

For me this means I aim to have both kids in bed by 8:30 p.m. My youngest is usually asleep well before that, but it’s a struggle with my three-year-old. He’s in that awkward stage between needing a nap and not needing a nap. If he doesn’t get one he’s a miserable, emotional wreck before we even get to supper time, and if he does get one, he could easily stay up until 10:30.

Which, speaking of dropping naps, I enforce a quiet time every day regardless of needing a nap or not. If my three-year-old falls asleep during quiet time, I try to not let him sleep more than 45-60 minutes so that he’ll still go to bed at a decent time so I can have some time with my husband. But I tell him he doesn’t have to sleep; he just needs to do something quietly on his bed for an hour or so. He sometimes fights me, but if we are home, it happens.

We also have family nearby, and we are blessed that both sets of grandparents are wonderful and love having our kids. I rarely send my youngest because he’s still primarily breastfed and I hate pumping, but usually my three-year-old goes to one of the grandparents’ houses once a week.

Now usually during these naps, and quiet times, and grandparent visits, I’m doing other things that need to be done, but I prioritize reading my Bible the first chance I get each day and then sometimes do something else for me or with my husband during those break times. The point is, those things are built into life as part of our everyday routine, so that on those days when I do reallllly need some alone time, when I need a chance to gather myself and refocus, I can usually get it within a reasonable time.

#4 Do the hard work to help make them enjoyable.

Basically, do the discipline and training necessary to make your kids generally enjoyable to be around. Kids are kids, and they will all misbehave sometimes, and they will sometimes go through really hard stages (ahem threenagers…), but consistently training them to be kind, respectful, and obedient makes a big difference!

I by no means have a great handle on discipline, and there are plenty of situations in which I simply don’t know what to do, but these are a couple books that have helped shape my general framework of parenting: “Parenting by God’s Promises”, “Gospel Powered Parenting”, and “Don’t Make Me Count to Three”.

#5 Do what you enjoy, and include them too!

Don’t stop doing the things you enjoy once you become a parent! There are definitely some activities that are much harder or perhaps impossible with small children in tow, but there are plenty of enjoyable things you can do with your children.

I have always loved being outside, and that is one thing that is really easy to include them in. They both love the outdoors, and we typically spend significant time out in our neighbor’s woods at least a few times a week. Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed and my patience is wearing out, the best thing to do is just load up the wagon (we have this one) and take the kids out to the woods for a few hours. It is refreshing and recharging for all of us, and it is such a great facilitator for enjoying my kids because it’s something I already enjoy and seeing them partaking in that enjoyment is really pretty awesome.

It takes longer, but it’s also fairly easy to include kids in cooking, baking, or anything artistic or creative. I love to read, and even though my typical book choice would be different, reading to my kids is something we both really enjoy. For the most part, I do what I enjoy doing and just bring my kids along.

You can include your children in the things you already enjoy doing; you just have to let your expectations be flexible. Find the things that you both love, and do them together. It is so rewarding to discover that your child loves the same things you do, that you actually have some common interests!

#6 Remind yourself of the truth.

Sometimes in the day-to-day grind of life and parenting, we can forget the value of what we’re doing. God gave these children to you in this season. Whether you’re a working parent, a stay-at-home parent, a foster, adoptive, or biological parent, you have an important role that no other person can exactly fulfill.

These children have eternal souls. They will make the world a better place or a worse place. They can help to bring healing or they can create more wounds. And we can’t control exactly what they do or don’t do. But our influence is strong, and we can try to equip them for whatever it is God calls them to do. The hard work of equipping them is made much easier when we are enjoying them along the way.

God calls children a gift, a reward, and a blessing, but we don’t always see them that way. (We also often think of gifts and blessings as being easy, not hard, but that’s a post for another day…) Those times when they don’t feel like gifts and blessings – those are the times when we must remind ourselves of that truth the most. I believe God wants us to enjoy His gifts and blessings, and these gifts and blessings include our children.

#7 Pray for them, and for yourself.

With the thought in mind that our children are valuable gifts and blessings with all this potential for either good or bad inside them, it only makes sense that we pray for them. Praying for your children makes you pause and really think about what it is you want for your children, who you hope they will be.

It makes you notice what they are struggling with and be more compassionate toward them. It makes you remember all the funny and precious things they do and how much you love them. And it makes you thank God for all those things. Sometimes we don’t enjoy our children because we don’t even notice them. Praying for them helps you to do just that.

We should also pray for ourselves as parents, pray that we can experience joy in parenting even if there are difficult circumstances that come along with them. Aside from the strength of Christ, there is no way I can parent my children as I should, nor can I enjoy them as I could. Prayer is hard, slow work. It’s not my strongest spiritual discipline for sure. But it does both our souls and the souls of our children eternal good.

Enjoy your children now.

I know it’s cliche, but your children won’t be children forever. These days are just a little blip in eternity, with all the struggles and all the joy. My grandma is 81 and the mother of six children. They often had financial struggles; one of her daughters had special needs and died at 18. Her life, especially as a parent, has not been easy. But she always encourages me, “Enjoy your children. Those days when my children were small were the best years of my life.” She still enjoys her children, but she misses those days when they were all at her table each evening.

I want my children to remember the great things we did together. I want them to remember and know for sure, without a doubt, that they are precious to me. Even though we certainly love our children even when we aren’t enjoying them, I think that those memories of us enjoying each other will help to remind our children that they are our treasures and that they are so, so loved.

So yes, parenting is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, and at times it may even be your greatest struggle. But the joy, even just the memory of the joy, will help to carry you through those trying times. So pursue the joy. Pursue the joy now. And enjoy your children.